This Day In History: 08/06

Monday, August 06, 2001

If you're a BR.com visitor, look for the new battle report towards the end of this week or the start of next week. Even though I should have spent more time doing useful things this weekend, this was a healthy project. Besides, if I hadn't worked on it so much, I definitely would have been playing games all weekend instead of anything productive. This is the lesser of two evils.

The miscellaneous gallivanting for next weekend is mostly arranged, so I'll be able to spend some quality time with friends before I move. At least I'm not in Florida during Hurricane Barry, though I'm sure my time will come.

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Friday, August 06, 2004

There's a very good chance that whichever room I'm in always has some kind of music playing. In my car, I can't stand listening to the radio because of the incessant and annoying commercials, so I'm constantly making mix CDs. After growing tired of hearing the same old songs over and over, I decided to give XM Radio a try.

I picked up the Delphi Roady2 at Best Buy for $130 on Wednesday night. Installation is pretty straightforward, and the tuner gets XM signals from its mini antenna, patching it to a cassette adapter or wirelessly to a designated FM station. Since I don't have a cassette deck in my car, I went the wireless route which doesn't give as good sound quality as the wired way, but which is still better than the radio.

Activation was easy -- I signed up online and left the tuner on until my account was magically beamed down from outer space by XM aliens. Ten bucks a month gives you access to a hundred commercial-free music stations of all genres . You can also get a free accessory that allows you to bring it inside and hook it up to your home stereo system. I figure I'll try it out for a month or two and see what I think. So far it's been pretty impressive.

Anyone else out there tried XM Radio or its going-broke competitor, Sirius?

Special plants turn sheep into humans
This President speaks with clarity and conviction

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Monday, August 06, 2007

Memory Day: Old Roommates

Next week, little Becca, the second-youngest regular visitor to the URI! Zone, will leave the area for her first semester at Virginia Tech, continuing the longstanding family tradition of doing everything the four older sisters do (with one inexplicable "who the heck goes to James Madison University? whatevs." anomaly in the early nineties, that will probably be rewritten in the Official Family Biography pamphlet when their homestead becomes a Historic Preservation Site). Because embarassing photos are fun, here is a picture of her in the sixth grade (the same year I started writing daily updates) as a member of the St. Timothy Tigers, a basketball team that puma'led a lion's share of their opponents.

Becca recently got her rooming assignments to the "indifferent, but thank God it's not a Pritchard" Lee Hall, the same dorm that both Kelley's girlfriend, Tula, and Shac lived in for their wild freshman years. To mark the occasion, I thought I would write about my own rooming/roommate experiences on the Virginia Tech campus.

In Fall '96, I was assigned to West Ambler-Johnston Room 5050 which, coincidentally enough, was also the ratio of my high school acquantainces who came to Tech and then failed out because they spent all day locked in their rooms playing Quake. I lived with a sax player from Gloucester who was generally pretty cool when he wasn't on a misguided quest to get me out of my shell by inviting me to sax parties, buying me classy shirts for Christmas, or dragging me to see the newly-revised Star Wars trilogy that had just been re-released in theatres. He also used to play along to Kenny G CDs on his soprano sax, until our perpetually high Resident Advisor, Blair (or maybe it was Shawn), told him to knock it off.

The following year, he moved off campus, and I threw my fate to the roll of the lottery system for a new roommate, ending up in 3119 East AJ with Dan Shiplett (a.k.a. Beavis). Once again, our co-existence was friendly and low-drama. I stayed in writing pep band arrangements, and he went out to give his computer time to render various ridiculous 3D models, like the Marching Virginians Trumpets logo. He drove home to Maryland almost every other weekend, and I generally leeched a ride off of him -- we always stopped in Verona to get dinner at Subway, after which I would eat my sub and then fall asleep for the remainder of the trip. Dan was also a member of the VT Paintball club, and once when he was driving to a game, he slammed on the brakes to stop from hitting a car in front of him, causing a giant canister of CO2 to rocket out of his back seat to smash his car's console.

In Fall '98, Dan moved off-campus and I stayed in the room with a CS major I knew from high school. Relations were good, with the exception of the late nights where he and one of two friends would argue over how to solve mathematical proofs or who was smarter. He was easily the messiest roommate I had, with soda cans and scrap paper littering his half of the room -- a feeble attempt to discover penicillin yet again. However, he was rarely ever in the room, choosing to spend most of his time bugging his high school girlfriend, Kim.

The next year, I moved across the hall into Kelley Corbett's room, which came complete with a Dustbuster, a carpet with padding, a hot pot, and other amenities I had done without in the previous three years (Everything you move in, you have to move out, I reasoned, so why bring anything other than a computer?). When he wasn't on the road spreading the word of the Freemasons, or visiting his eventually-crazy girlfiend, he was off in the practice room or taking a shower with a different towel every day (because the towel touches your junk, and thus, should not be reused). For bonding activities, we would play Blitz '99, watch That 70s Show, or I would listen to his practicing and try to deflate his ego a couple notches.

For my fifth year, I finally moved off-campus and into a crappy Foxridge apartment where I got the biggest bedroom and private bathroom solely on the basis of my gender. My roommates were two girls: Rosie, whose was addicted to Dawson's Creek and the first season of Survivor, and whose showers were of epic-length, sometimes longer than an episode of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire with commercial breaks; and Anna, Becca's older sister who was initially worried about what her parents would say when she asked to live with a boy. We also adopted the cat, Kitty, who would ensure that we'd never see a cent of our security deposit by peeing on every square inch of the carpet throughout the apartment.

Share some of your own roommate/rooming stories!

Roo-moval comes at $3600 a head
Never try to disprove CSI
Walking damages the environment more than driving

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Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Pet Day: Speedy and Pokey

It was in the Spring of either fifth or sixth grade when the next animals entered the URI! household menagerie. This time, instead of a peeing kitty, it was a pair of fluffy guinea pigs.

Although we didn't realize it at the time, guinea pigs are easily some of the most worthless pets in the history of pets. Now, many pets don't have much to offer to the human race -- snakes spend the entire day sitting stock still on a stick, stoically staring. However, guinea pigs are equally worthless and annoying to boot.

Guinea pigs are larger than a mouse but smaller than a rat, poop and pee eighteen thousand times a day, refuse to be picked up or petted, and make an air raid BWEEEEP sound whenever they're hungry. They eat constantly and grow to the size of a mutant potato -- as they expand, their proclivities for pooping and peeing increase in a linear fashion.

My sister's piggy was named Speedy, a sleek white, tan, and brown beast that looked like the failed design for an African flag. My own, Pokey, was whorled in cowlicks and looked slightly like a partially gnawed albino apple. We kept them in a homemade cage of PVC pipe, wire screen and metal trays covered in newspapers.

From the day we got them, they ran from us at every opportunity -- all the silly Guinea Pig books from the local Crown Books suggested that continued petting and holding would tame them, but all it did was result in further poop and pee in the unfortunate petter's lap. Continued attempts to lap-train them failed, and eventually we reached a point of mutual coexistence -- we would feed them fifteen times a day and clean their cages every time they smelled like a urinal trough, and they would not go BWEEP BWEEP BWEEP.

Eventually, they grew to a size where their cage was always a soggy pastiche of piggy pellets and sprayed urine, requiring a daily cleaning to keep the smell down. Cleaning was an arduous affair, requiring us to chase them into one half of the two-trayed cage while we swapped out the newspaper in the other half.

Of course, kids in fifth and seventh grade are not going to keep up with a daily task like this -- we could barely remember to practice our instruments for thirty minutes a day without constant nagging. So eventually, my valiant dad became the constant gardener of these unpleasant beasts.

It all came to an end one day when we returned home from school to find the space where the cage once was vacuumed and empty. When asked where they had gone, my dad simply said that he'd gotten tired of the BWEEEEPing and found them a new home.

No one was particularly brokenhearted.

Farmer sends message to neighbours with car fence
Payroll computers too old for a pay cut
No kids or jobs for stay-at-home wives

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Thursday, August 06, 2009

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Weeds (Season Four):
In the fourth season of Weeds, Nancy Botwin moves her family south to the Mexican border because of the events that occurred in the previous season finale. This was probably intended to get some fresh settings into the story, but some of the main characters that don't really fit into the new setting end up there anyhow and the writers go to convoluted lengths just to keep around familiar faces. The stories are amusing with more of the focus on character antics over family drama, although there seems to be a lot more unnecessary sex and nakedness for the pure sake of being an edgy Showtime show.

Final Grade: B+

Masters of Doom by David Kushner:
This book is the biography of John Carmack and John Romero, and, by extension, the history of id software and the DOOM games. It's written in a simple, engaging style with a fair bit of artistic license, and reads a little like David Sheff's Game Over: How Nintendo Conquered the World. You'll only get a kick out of it if you grew up at all with the DOOM phenomenon, but for those folks, it's definitely worth a read.

Final Grade: B

Like Vines by the Hush Sound:
Like Vines is the second CD by The Hush Sound, the band that I previously said was catchy, if bad at sound mixing. This CD is a bit more polished, and the songs are much stronger than their first outing -- other members of the group provide backup vocals, and there are more occasions for the male/female leads to sing together. The only downside is its length: 35 minutes. More and more CDs are being released with barely enough music to be worth it -- if you don't have enough music to release about an hour's worth, you shouldn't be releasing yet. Alternately, you need to repeat the chorus eight more times and call it a day (see also, Jem).

Final Grade: B-

Rhythms del Mundo: Cuba:
This is a campy benefit CD that takes popular rock and pop songs and mashes them up into Cuban salsa songs. Some are more successful than others, but it's longer than 35 minutes and is fun for background music. Samples can be heard here.

Final Grade: B

Marines ban social networking
Taxi service allows patrons to decide fares
Spain acquits sole black man in ID parade

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Friday, August 06, 2010

(Mostly) Off Day

In an unscientific analysis of yesterday's census, both of the initial respondents demonstrated their OCD by fixing a typo I had left in the census response template. I will occasionally make typographical mistakes alterations just to see if your on you're toes -- there's your warning.

I've managed to work enough hours this week to take most of today off, unless something should come up, so I plan to take full advantage. Other notable accomplishments this week include:

  • Installing a new stereo in my car that doesn't hiss like a mellophone player in the Marching Virginians.
  • Getting to the last mission in Starcraft II.
  • Eating at Omia's, the local restaurant that really deserves more patronage for its cheap, good Greek and Italian food.
  • Getting a bonus at work for spending a whole week in training.

Have a great weekend!

Resistance forms against Hollywood's 3D push
Apology after girl's lemonade stand shut down
NY prosecutors not sure which twin to charge

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Monday, August 06, 2012

And we're back.

My fifteen days of vacation this year are now at an end!

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Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Cost of Living Day

I've measured the cost of being BU in previous years, but it was always based on a few choice metrics, and about as scientifically accurate as Windows progress bars. This time around, I've data mined all of my non-cash receipts from the year, 2012, to determine my actual expenses (down to the penny). Data is fun!

In 2012, it cost $43,855.76 to live in the manner I have become accustomed to, not including the one-time purchase of the new car last May. This amount is broken down into the following categories:

  • Bills / Taxes: $25,514.84 goes towards monthly bills, house insurance, car insurance, and Loudoun County taxes. None of this could be cut if I wanted to pursue an alternate career as a positive thinker while still living where I live.

  • Vacation: $5,074.65 went towards our Montreal trip and a few B&R R&R weekends at B&Bs. Worth it!

  • Repeat Shopping: $4,459.17 went towards repeat shopping at grocery stores like Safeway or Wegmans, or weekly Costco trips.

  • Entertainment: $3,571.33 covers movies, games, music, and the newspaper subscription.

  • Dining Out: $2,349.53 was spent on eating out, and not all at Popeyes. Apparently, in March 2012, we went to Pizzario's four times during the single month it was open before it went out of business.

  • Gas / Tolls: It cost me $1,401.56 to drive around our road-centric region.

  • Uncategorized Shopping: $824.91 went towards miscellaneous shopping, like trips to Target or CVS.

  • Computer / Web Hosting: $659.77 went towards buying toner cartridges so Rebecca could print 800 page PT briefs, as well as monthly web hosting so I could tell all of you clowns about my expenses.

Overall, the price of being me was about $120 per day. Were I to lose my job in the redneck apocalypse (because zombies are conceptually retarded, and also highly unlikely), I could easily trim that down to $86 per day without too much hardship. I generally don't stick to a budget proactively -- instead, I'll monitor my expenses on a monthly basis. If I feel like I overspent one month, I'll compensate in the following month!

tagged as data, day-to-day | permalink | 1 comment

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Memory Day: Snapshots

Here are a few snapshots of my house from August 2004, and the same angles today. Although I had moved in during the month of February, the entire first year was spent with minimal furniture, as I wanted to do many of the home improvement tasks that would normally require moving heavy furniture first as lazily as possible. The house probably didn't look lived in until the Fall.

Jim Barry dubbed this massive desk the "American Dream Desk", because it had space and cubbyholes for pretty much everything. Today, it is one Mineral VA earthquake away from collapsing, after many years of being dragged between rooms (depending on which room I wanted to be the office in any given year). The cabinets are full to the brim, and the musical keyboard has lost one octave, so I don't write as many high notes.

The original basement was subdivided into a warren of dwellings, and the pciture on the left was taken during my work to convert a bookshelf into a "bar". I mounted two wall lamps in the wood, flipped the shelves to face into the smaller area, and bought a pool table (and pool table light) off the Internet.

I still don't see the "purple" in the paint on the walls. The billiard clock was given to me by Evil Mike at my housewarming in 2004, and stopped working around 2007.

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Thursday, August 06, 2015

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Physics of the Future Michio Kaku:
I enjoyed this nonfiction book about the current state of science and technology, having recently been on a future kick from all the science fiction movies I've watched while Rebecca was out in nature. Kaku lays out the expected progression of technology over the next 100 years in fields such as biology, nanotechnology, computers, and genetics based on interviews with scientists. The technical detail is greatly simplified for laymen, and I was most impressed by how near-term some breakthroughs actually are.

Final Grade: A-

The Bright Side by Lenka:
Lenka's fourth album is pure sugar pop, with happy beats, descending minor thirds everywhere, and simple, catchy lyrics. It's probably too saccharine for any but the most devoted fans, but I generally enjoyed it. However, I probably won't listen to it on loop for years to come.

Final Grade: B-

Suits, Season One:
This network show about the bromance between a partner and his associate who doesn't actually have a law degree is fun, with witty banter and humor trumping the generally cookie cutter storylines. I enjoyed the first season, but not so much that I would watch the second. However, if you're looking for a show that's breezy fun without much depth or drama, this could be it. Free on Amazon Prime.

Final Grade: C+

Portal Stories: Mel:
This free expansion pack to Portal 2 got good enough reviews that I downloaded it, but I then spent the next fifteen minutes trapped in an unskippable on-rails introduction (like Half Life 1, a game that bored me) with humorous narration that didn't quite work. I lost most interest by the time of the first Portal puzzle, which lacked the gentle guidance and "aha!" moments that made the real franchise so addicting -- it felt like an expert pack that I wouldn't really enjoy.

Final Grade: Not Graded

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Monday, August 06, 2018

Data Day: The Technology Timeline For My Career

tagged as data, programming | permalink | 2 comments

Friday, August 06, 2021

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Nobody (R):
This is a throwaway action flick starring Bob Odenkirk as a middle-aged nobody who gets pushed around one too many times. It uses ultraviolence for an almost comic effect, and is good, shallow fun. It was also nice to see Christopher Lloyd in a guest role.

Final Grade: B-

Mystery of Mister V by Von Smith:
Von Smith's second album is another collection of bombastic, musical theater-like songs that are lots of fun to listen too but a little too eclectic and genre-jumping to gain a wider audience. Nothing Like This is a good example of his style, which sometimes feels like the lovechild of Mika and Nate Ruess.

Final Grade: B

Happy Endings, Season One:
This sitcom from the post-Scrubs era feels comfortably traditional. It's a fun watch when you have an infant and cannot commit any brain cells to following a more complicated serialized plot. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: B

Miss Saigon: The Definitive Live Recording:
This recording is fine. There are no glaringly bad or distracting singers, unlike the London and Broadway recordings, but there are also no standouts. Most of the lyrical changes feel like useless bikeshedding that are no better than what was there before. The big change in this production was the replacement of an entire song for the Ellen character -- the new song is completely forgettable.

Final Grade: C

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